Juan Ponce Enrile: What I've Learned

"I don’t think anyone can duplicate the life that I went through."
IMAGE Jake Verzosa

This was originally published in our October 2011 issue.

How does one get anything done in Congress? You have to have friends. You have to maintain connections with people who have the clout.

I was not fortunate enough to be born in a soft bed.

I learned to judge people, befriend them, stay away from them. Like a wild beast in the jungle trying to realize the dangers around that lurk to destroy him.

Actually if you come to think of it, life itself is a jungle.

When war broke out, I got involved in the underground effort against the Japanese forces and I learned a little bit about the art of war. And how jungle life was, how to sleep under the trees during rainy times, how not to be eaten by leeches.

I experienced being beaten up by the Japanese military police, for 89 days. If there was any hell, that was it.

The most demeaning thing that I had to do was wash the ass of babies.

I think that some people do not believe in divine spirits or a supreme being ruling the world but I do believe in it.

I never cross-examine a witness unless I have a fairly good idea of the background of the person, and the nature of what he is going to say.

All of these people who worked for me as my military aids I treated like my own children. Some of them died in the service of the country, and remain unwritten and unknown but nonetheless, I always remember them in my thoughts and in my heart.


Even if you give it to me on a silver platter I will not take the presidency.

No matter how strong he is. No matter how well-intentioned he is, the president can’t do the job alone.

I don’t think anyone can duplicate the life that I went through.

I’ve never considered man as always good. Man is man. Yes, he has dreams, he has needs, he has some vision, he has motives. He has desires. And these color his actions.

My closest friend? Oh, he’s dead now.

Yes, I knew how to be hungry.

One day a man named Ferdinand Marcos called me by phone and talked to me into going into politics. I said “No.”

No person in this country other than those who have become president could ever imagine wielding the power that I had when I worked for President Marcos.

I did not ambush myself. I was really ambushed. But, I did not know that it was a Palace effort. I learned about it later on. How can I ambush myself to justify Martial Law, when Martial Law was already on?

Sometimes I get scared because if I was foolish enough to exercise the immense powers that were placed in my hands especially during Martial Law, I could have destroyed a lot of people in this country.

I’m quite grateful to the Divine Providence that He enlightened my mind never to misuse the power that was entrusted to me.

Marcos’s weakness was he was fond of material things. He was fond of fame and glory. He was fond of well, everyone. He was fond of the “Other Side of Midnight” as you call it.

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This is what I learned from Fidel Ramos: Don’t smoke too much cigars.

The last time I spoke to Ninoy Aquino was when I took him to Malacañang to meet President Marcos.

I was about to go to sleep when Malacañang called me up to tell me that Ninoy was shot. And I said, “Why?”

I have no regrets. One thing that I can say about myself is I have been always deliberate in what I do, and in what I blocked out. I never regret.

But if anything, my greatest regret is that I was not able to spend more time with my children when they were young and growing.

If you unsheathe your weapon and I unsheathe mine, you better use it because I’m ready to use mine.

When it comes to women, some you love, some you don’t. Some are good company, some are for fun and some are just passing through.

Some people think of me as the devil incarnate, I respect their opinion.

It’s nice to have grandchildren. They’re your pets, but you’re not responsible for them.

Pain is no longer a word in medicine.

The biggest misconception about EDSA? That it happened just like that. It did not happen spontaneously. The only thing spontaneous about it was the site.

When somebody threatens me, that is the worst thing for them.

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Erwin Romulo
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